Brits endorse U.S. online gambling regulation

Palace Guards at Buckingham Palace, London

The United States is still locked in negotiations with Europe and the British government over compensation for the U.S. online gambling ban, but the British would actually prefer to see the U.S. regulate the industry instead of face penalties for its ban.

The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI) sent out a press release Monday in which officials from the British government endorse the United States' regulating online gambling.

"The British Government has signaled quite clearly its support for regulation rather than prohibition of gambling by the recent implementation of the (Unlawful Internet) Gambling Act," said Emily Bourne, private secretary of the British Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory reform, in a letter to financial service and gambling companies.

The European Union has also been in negotiations with the United States for compensation because of the online gambling ban. On a recent visit to Washington D.C., EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said that Congress needed to either open up the online gambling market to European operators or pay the compensation.

The United States is facing a potential $100 billion claim from the European Union in the trade dispute.

"Rather than negotiating away settlements that could negatively impact the U.S. economy, the Administration and U.S. Congress should seek a more sensible policy solution and regulate Internet gambling," said Jeffrey Sandman, SSIGI spokesperson.

"As the British government has correctly acknowledged, it is clear that the futile approach by the U.S. to prohibit Internet gambling is a failure. Regulation of Internet gambling could bring the U.S. into compliance with the WTO requirements, protect consumers and generate billions in revenue needed for critical government programs."

There is already a bill introduced in the U.S. Congress that could end the online gambling ban and bring the nation back into compliance with World Trade Organization regulations.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced H.R. 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The bill would legalize the online gambling industry and set up a system of regulating and licensing online gambling businesses who want to serve U.S. customers.

Instead of following that route after the WTO ruled again this year that the online gambling ban violated trade regulations, the United States chose to start the process of withdrawing its obligations with regard to free trade in the gaming area.

So the government of Antigua and Barbuda, which initiated the original case, is now asking for $3.7 billion in compensation, and the United States is open to trade-concession demands from other countries involved in the online gambling sector.

If the United States and the European Union can't come to a settlement agreement, the European Union could demand binding arbitration before a WTO panel.

Antigua is already involved in arbitration with the United States. The latest deadline for the two to come to an agreement is Friday.

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